Federal regulations for commercial truck drivers are written by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) and enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT). These regulations help ensure highway safety and lessen the chance of unqualified drivers getting behind the wheel of an 80,000-pound vehicle. To become a truck driver, you must receive a commercial truck driver license (CDL) and know the laws regarding your chosen profession.
For a person to be qualified to hold a CDL, he must be 21 years old, have 20/40 vision or wear glasses and cannot be color-blind. A driver must have hearing of 10/20 or better in his best ear, and cannot be addicted to drugs or alcohol. A CDL holder must be able to read and speak English to the extent of being able to read signs and understand directions from law enforcement officials. A truck driver must undergo physical examinations at least every two years, and he is not allowed to have any mental impairment that would interfere with safe truck operation.
**Record of Duty Status
Drivers of commercial trucks must keep a record of their duty status for each 24-hour period. They must retain a copy of this record, called a logbook, in the truck for seven days. Entries in the logbook are to be made only by the driver and the status recorded must be current as of the last change of status. Each log page must show the trucking company information, vehicle identification, the date and the total miles driven that day. There are four acceptable statuses on a log book: off-duty, sleeper berth, driving and on-duty not driving.
**Inspection, Repair and Maintenance
All motor carriers must inspect, maintain and repair any commercial truck that they put on the highway. Parts and accessories must be in safe working condition at all times. Inspection of parts, including suspension, truck frame, wheels and steering system, must be conducted regularly. The carrier is to replace defective parts immediately. Maintenance and repair records must be kept by the motor carrier for one year. If the company releases the equipment and no longer has any control over it, these records may be destroyed after six months.
**Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports
Drivers must complete a vehicle inspection report each day that they work. This report must list any equipment defects found, and if the defect prevents safe operation, the driver must document the repair of the equipment. The carrier must keep a copy of the vehicle inspection report for three months.